Dir: Neill Blomkamp
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Hugh Jackman, Dev Patel, Ninja, Yolandi, Sigourney Weaver
Review: Back in 2009 a little film from a young South African filmmaker who was previously attached to the failed Halo film, which was produced by Peter Jackson that proved to be the ultimate game changer in sci-fi cinema. The film was District 9, the young filmmaker, Neill Blomkamp who up until then was known for short films such as Tetra Vaal and Alive in Joburg, the latter being the short film that impressed Jackson so much that he helped fund Blomkamp’s Oscar nominated debut. Six years have since passed and Blomkamp has already successfully managed to create unique worlds and characters. Blomkamp now unleashes upon us his third feature film and the third part of a trilogy of films that all share similar themes and ideas, and like District 9 is inspired by his short Tetra Vaal.
In the very near future the crime wave in Johannesburg has reached breaking point were the deployment of police droids have been recruited to help keep the peace. One of these droids, unit 22 is stolen and finds his way into the hands of a very unlikely family. Unit 22 is no ordinary Droid, and Chappie as he is soon renamed becomes the next step of robotics evolution, Chappie is the first successful fully conscious robotic being.
Returning to South Africa and boasting a unique and very talented international cast that includes Dev Patel (the droids creator, Deon), Hugh Jackman (primary antagonist Vincent), Sigourney Weaver (Michelle Bradley, CEO of the company that builds the droids) and of course, Blomkamp’s partner in crime, Sharlto Copley (Chappie). Chappie has more in common with Blomkamp’s debut than it does with his second feature, Elysium, Chappie opens with similar televised news readings and interviews to help introduce the audience to this new future world that Blomkamp has created with his wife and co-writer, Terri Tatchell. Copley plays Chappie as an infant, as soon as he becomes self aware he has to learn things like a child would as he grows ever more curious about his world and the strange people in it. Chappie doesn’t understand why people would be afraid or angry towards him, and it takes the love shown by his very unusual adopted family.
South African rap group Die Antwoord fill the rolls of Chappie’s new family and it is a unique casting choice on Blomkamp’s half, as the script was written with them in mind. Ninja and Yo-Landi Visser basically play themselves and its a stroke of casting genius as they fit in perfectly to Blomkamp’s vision as help to raise Chappie in their own way. Copley may be the star of the film but the heart of the film is Yo-Landi who instantly takes on the role of Chappie’s mother, and she is simply adorable. The films other two stand outs are Jackman and Weaver, its an extremely pleasure to see Jackman in a role that is a total departure from previous roles, which is basically the one and as for Weaver I honestly can’t remember the last time she has been in a decent role like this.
The visuals in the film are absolutely spectacular and you’ll believe that Chappie and his droid companions, whose looks were inspired by Briareos from Appleseed are actual working machines and not actors in mo-cap suits. Hans Zimmer provides a very gritty and robotic sounding score that sends goosebumps down the spine. Chappie is another fine example of Blomkamp’s talents which are set to get a massive boost as he has already begun work on a new Alien film, the concept art which set the internet on fire with gossip late last year which has recently resulted in the green lighting of the project.
Smart, witty, brutal and emotionally heart breaking, Chappie is a brilliant film that will entertain and is certainly the first classic film of 2015.
Review written by Christopher Innis